award winning commercials from Paris

Wednesday 30 March, 2011

The Alliance France hosted La Nuit de la Pub: Award-Winning Commercials featuring an evening of videos hosted by Anne Saint Dreux,  Director-Founder of  Maison de la Pub .  The House of Advertising or La Maison de la Pub is a global, international archive of advertising media. With a collection of 400,000 advertising films, (now 500K commercials, I believe) from the first commercial by the Lumière brothers (1897) to current advertising campaigns, it offers incomparable research material on French and international advertising. Its multimedia archives are designed for professionals, students and the public at large and provide materials for television programs, festivals and large exhibitions in France and abroad (from the website).

Our Master of Ceremonies from DraftFCB placed Chicago in the history of advertising right up there with New York & San Francisco as the founding home of J.Walter Thompson in 1864, Foote, Cone, & Belding in 1873, & Leo Burnett in 1935.

The original purpose of advertising was to simply inform the public, but it has now become much much more.  There is an inherent contradiction:  is the purpose of marketing strategy now just to manipulate minds?  Lever Brothers created the 1st commercial as we know it when they combined a ticket to the movies with Lumaire soap.  Over time, advertisers diversified their offers.  In the 1950’s & 1960’s, the golden age of advertising in France, comedy spiced it up as the thought transitioned from “reason to sympathy.”  The 1st oil crisis in 1974 encouraged consumers to conserve.  The 1980’s were the decade of “careless sympathy.”  In featuring cars, (the blind) Ray Charles was shown driving a Citroen in the desert of Utah.  In the 1990’s, as we were greeted with live images of war for the 1st time, advertising became soft, surreal, & discreet, & focused on inner values while at the same time appealing to the pleasure principle & showing off the libido.  Women then rebelled, as advertising has now become more friendly & perhaps a social mirror.  Advertising has become a weapon of mass creation.


  • Advertising has become more democratic.  Now there is much more 2-way communications which engages consumers.
  • Advertising follows major trends world-wide, but France is different from the US in the nuances.  Now you can’t limit the conversation:  consumers can now provide feedback.
  • While consumers are now creating their own ads, advertising agencies aren’t abdicating their duties as professionals.  For every trend, there is a counter-trend.
  • The La Maison de la Pub has some radio advertising from the 1930’s-1950’s, but otherwise has mostly TV, video ads, but does focus on life beyond TV commercials.
  • The television series “Mad Men” has been a great success in it’s 1st year in France.
  • France is not necessarily more creative than anywhere else because advertising is subjective & the French do some lousy advertising too.  US advertising is typically more locally-oriented.  Because women & humor differ, the conversation might or might not be different from place-to-place.
  • Now conversations are in 2 ways between consumers & brand builders on the internet.  Commercials still must be observed in context to determine their relevance.

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